7. every young person needs

Nurturing connections to culture, community and the natural environment

Icon of four circles interlinking to symbolise connection. This image supports the theme of 'Nurturing connections to culture, community and the natural environment'

“Culture fills the void of belonging and connects me with my spirit”

– Young delegate at Koorie Youth Summit 2017

“I want my community to have the capacity to meet regularly and not live in their own little worlds. For everyone to be able to express themselves and feel part of a broader community.”

– Young person telling YACVic what matters to them

"More arts and cultural events. Young people need more opportunities to express/experience culture-related events."

"I hope to see more encouragement towards protecting and educating people about our beautiful land, and why we need to cherish it!"

– Young people from rural and regional Victoria

the challenge

We all want young people to be happy where they live,  surrounded by people who care about them and a natural environment that supports their wellbeing. All young people should feel supported to enjoy and celebrate their cultures and express themselves through arts.

But some young Victorians can’t enjoy these things. For example, nearly 30% don't agree they have a trusted adult in their lives. Many Aboriginal Victorians still don’t get the opportunity to speak an Aboriginal language or take part in cultural life. And while Victoria has some excellent programs to connect young people to community, culture. music and creative arts, many of these are funded on a short-term basis and struggle to be accessible to every young person.

Meanwhile, some young people don’t have access to natural outdoor spaces, especially young people with disability. The natural world itself is under threat from climate change and environmental degradation and young people today will be most affected. Many young Victorians are passionately committed to turning this situation around; their voices deserve to be heard.


future Goal 

All young people have trusting, supportive relationships with adults.

First steps by 2020

  • Continue and expand the Empower Youth program, which connects young people facing disadvantage with education, employment, support services, and positive community life.

  • Fund high quality youth mentoring programs for long-term cycles (over three years), with potential for recurrent funding, guided by evaluation and quality improvement measures. Victoria has diverse mentoring programs, including programs which focus on education (e.g. Standing Tall), life skills (e.g. L2P), and cultural strengthening (e.g. Aboriginal youth mentoring programs developed through Marram Nganyin). But youth mentoring tends to depend on short-term funding and volunteers; sustainable models are needed.

  • Create wellbeing opportunities in green outdoor spaces, for young people at risk of isolation and disadvantage. These could include adventure therapy, nature therapy, volunteering and mentoring programs in outdoor settings such as national parks, botanic gardens and wildlife sanctuaries.

Future goal

All young people can explore and express their creative talents.

First steps by 2020

  • Evaluate and update the FReeZA program. For over two decades, the Victorian Government’s FReeZA initiative has funded committees of young people to produce music events in their local community. The program is well supported and resourced by The Push. FReeZA is highly valued, but has not kept pace with population growth, costs of rural/regional delivery, or the changing way in which young people engage with music. The program was last evaluated in 2007. We support a new review as proposed by the Push.

  • Create more opportunities to make arts more accessible to all young people. Young people need more youth-friendly arts and entertainment spaces in interface, regional and rural communities, which are fully accessible and welcoming to people from diverse cultural backgrounds. To support this, the Victorian Government should establish a new music and creative arts Diversity and Inclusion Program, a new grants program to enable more all-ages events, and further opportunities for young people to drive the growth of Victoria’s music industry, all as recommended by the Push.


Future Goal

All Aboriginal young people can access cultural gathering spaces to build strong identity and connections with family and community.

First steps by 2020

  • Support Aboriginal communities to design and lead initiatives to help young people connect with Elders, community and other young people, learn and practise culture in all its forms, gather and share Elders’ stories and language, connect with family members and trace ancestors.

  • Strengthen resourcing to the Koorie Youth Council to provide Aboriginal young people with a strong voice and meaningful opportunities for cultural strengthening and decision-making.


Future Goal

Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds enjoy strong connections to culture and community.

First steps by 2020

  • Build strong and diverse connections between young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and their families and wider communities, including through leadership and advocacy opportunities for young people, youth programs, arts, sports, educational supports and volunteering.

  • Ensure young people and youth-led organisations are well represented in the roll-out of the Victorian African Communities Action Plan.

  • Evaluate and further strengthen the impact of Community Support Groups, potentially by increasing the number of groups around the state.

Future Goal

Young people are supported to take action for environmental sustainability and clean energy.

First steps by 2020

  • Promote peer-to-peer education about sustainability and climate change, working with youth-led organisations like Australian Youth Climate Coalition, to build young people’s leadership and networks.

  • Ensure all schools are supported to develop a sustainability plan and create student-led and student-partnered environmental groups, as recommended by VicSRC.

  • Develop a solid strategy to move Victoria away from carbon-intensive energy generators and replace them with clean, affordable alternatives, as recommended by VCOSS. This strategy should include planning for strong employment opportunities for young people in 'green' energy industries.

Camp Jung Gai four young people on a basketball court in rural location holding up an Aboriginal flag.

How you can take action

Ask your local candidates these questions in the lead up to the 2018 state election:

1. What steps would they take to strengthen young people’s connections to community and supportive adults beyond their immediate families?

2. How would they create opportunities for young people to get involved in arts and cultural life?

3. How would they make sure young people have a real voice in decision-making about sustainability, green energy, and environmental policy?